NATO has no intention of intervening in Iran and backs a diplomatic solution to the nuclear dispute, the alliance’s chief said Thursday, after reports of a debate in Israel over launching an attack as Tehran said it was “prepared for the worst” and warned Washington against putting itself on “collision course.”
“Let me stress that NATO has no intention whatsoever to intervene in Iran and NATO is not engaged as an alliance in the Iran question,” Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said at a news conference, according to AFP.
“We support of course the international efforts to pursue political and diplomatic solutions to the Iran problem,” he said, urging Tehran to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions demanding a halt in nuclear activities.
Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was seeking cabinet support for a military strike on Iran, after days of speculation about plans for an attack.
London’s Guardian newspaper reported that Britain’s armed forces were stepping up contingency plans in the event the United States opted for military action against Iran.
Thursday’s edition cited unnamed defense ministry contacts as saying they believed Washington might rush forward plans for missile strikes on Iranian facilities -- and might ask for British military help.
Iran “prepared for the worst”
Meanwhile, Iran’s foreign minister said on Thursday that Tehran was “prepared for the worst” and warned the United States against putting itself on “collision course” with his country.
On the sidelines of a news conference in the Libyan city of Benghazi, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was asked about news reports of Washington accelerating plans for a strike on Iran over its controversial nuclear program.
“The U.S. has unfortunately lost wisdom and prudence in dealing with international issues. It depends only on power.
“They have lost rationality; we are prepared for the worst but we hope they will think twice before they put themselves on a collision course with Iran,” Salehi said, according to AFP.
Washington and other Western powers suspect Tehran is seeking to build nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies. It says its nuclear program is for purely peaceful ends to which it has a right.
Washington insisted on Wednesday that it remains committed to a diplomatic solution of the nuclear standoff with Iran as talk mounted in Israel of a political push for a pre-emptive strike.
“We remain focused on a diplomatic channel here, a diplomatic course in terms of dealing with Iran,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
“NATO made mistakes"
Earlier, at a joint news conference, Salehi was questioned about NATO’s military strikes in support of fighters battling to overthrow dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
“NATO did not come to help without any reason ... they made mistakes. The president of Iran (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) has criticized these mistakes," said Salehi.
Libyan leader, National Transitional Council chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil, responded: “Qaddafi troops tried to kill people on 19 March.
“If it were not for NATO, there would have been a massacre by Qaddafi troops. Libyan fighters brought victory on the ground but we must not forget the coalition's air strikes that supported and helped us.”
On the fate of revered, Iranian-born, Lebanese Shiite leader Moussa al-Sadr, who disappeared in 1978 on a trip to Libya, Abdel Jalil said: “One of the priorities of the new government is to investigate what Qaddafi did to the Libyan people and people from different nations.”
Once the inquiry was complete, Libya would give details to both the Iranian and Lebanese governments, he said.
Abdel Jalil told reporters that he and Salehi did not discuss the issue of Syria. Libya has supported the opposition movement trying to oust the Syrian leadership while Iran has backed President Bashar al-Assad.
“Every country has the right about whom to support,” Jalil said.